Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)


French: Moineau espagnol German: Weidensperling Spanish: Gorrión moruno

Fringilla hispaniolensis


, 1820,

Algeciras, southern Spain


Sometimes considered conspecific with P. domesticus and P. italiae. Hybridizes extensively with former, and in S Italy with latter; see those two species. Hybrids with P. montanus also reported. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. h. hispaniolensis (Temminck, 1820) – Iberian Peninsula, Sardinia, Greece and Balkans, W Asia Minor, E Atlantic islands (Madeira, Canary Is and Cape Verde Is) and NW Africa (Morocco E to NE Libya); non-breeding visitor to NE Africa and SW Asia.
  • P. h. transcaspicus Tschusi, 1902 – Cyprus, E Turkey and Levant E to Iran, Afghanistan, S Kazakhstan and NW China (W Xinjiang); winters in SW Asia, Pakistan and NW India.
  • Introduced (nominate) to Madeira Is, Canary Is and Cape Verde Is.

    Descriptive notes

    15–16 cm; 22–38 g. Male nominate race breeding has forehead to nape and hindneck deep chestnut, lores black (usually with short white supraloral line), white... read more


    Call an almost disyllabic "tchweep", used by male to proclaim nest ownership, speeded up... read more


    Predominantly moist, humid areas near water with trees and shrubs; normally associated with... read more

    Food and feeding

    Principally vegetable matter, mainly seeds of grasses, cultivated crops and low herbs, but invertebrates taken throughout year. Insects... read more


    Season mainly Apr–Aug in W of range, from Mar in N Africa, and Aug–Oct and Feb–Mar in Cape Verde Is; in E of range moves... read more


    Variously resident, nomadic and migratory. Those on E Atlantic islands and some populations in S of... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to locally abundant. Rough estimates in 1980s-1990s gave following figures for breeding pairs: Romania 500,000, Greece 400,000... read more

    Recommended citation

    Summers-Smith, D. (2020). Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 January 2020).